Robotic automation to help reduce workplace injuries

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The Philippine manufacturing industry has the biggest share when it comes to safety-related accidents since 2015, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Safety and Health in the Workplace Cases of Occupational Injuries.

Yet, along the years, the numbers still increased across different industries in recorded workplace accidents, which only adds to businesses’ operational costs and employee suffering.

Recently, the IHS Markit Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey reported a promising outlook for the manufacturing industry in the Philippines. It showed the need to leverage technologies that can further help the industry improve by boosting employee’s morale, productivity, and lessen workplace injuries.

This is why Denmark-based collaborative robots (cobots) technology proponent Universal Robots (UR) urged local manufacturers to accelerate robotic automation and increase productivity while helping reduce workplace-related injuries.

A cobot has the potential to decrease work challenges with its advanced technologies that deliver productivity and process innovation for companies. UR cobots will also help workplaces in the Philippines generate a healthy and safe environment.

“Cobots can perform tasks that may be dangerous or injury-prone for humans. With built-in safety features that slow the robot arm when a human enters its workspace, cobots can keep human colleagues safe from occupational injuries as it addresses repetitive and dangerous tasks in the manufacturing sector,” narrates James McKew, Regional Director of Asia-Pacific in Universal Robots to Frontpageph.com.

Universal Robots’ adjustable safety system allows companies to adjust a range of parameters to reduce the risks involved with implementing an industrial robot application. These include limiting the force, speed, power or momentum of the robot, or restricting its workspace using safety boundaries. Productivity gains, along with the inherently safe design of cobot solutions means this new automation technology could reduce up to 72 percent of the common causes of injury in manufacturing environments.

He said that as industries move closer to the vision of Industry 5.0 where man and machine work together on the smart factory floor, the need to consider the safety and compliance requirements of this new kind of workplace has become paramount.

Undoubtedly, a collaborative workforce featuring human and robots complements each other in their roles and offers significant opportunities to enhance manufacturing productivity, innovation, safety and overall job satisfaction in the workplace, adds McKew.

McKew also pointed out that companies can achieve a faster Return On Investment (ROI) by using cobots to free up workers’ time, allowing them to tackle higher productivity processes and ultimately acquire new skills.

Unlike traditional robots that require engineer-level programming, cobots’ programming is made simple through human-machine interfaces (HMI) familiar to anyone who has used a smartphone.

For more complex applications, Universal Robots also has a network of Certified System Integrators and Authorized Training Centers ready to support users with day-to-day operations after the initial installation.

By eliminating the need for formal education in programming or robotics, such interfaces and capabilities make the skills gap and learning curve for using cobots small and also encourages local manufacturers to adopt the perfect “man-and-machine” collaboration.

With cobots, manufacturers in the Philippines should not fear the impacts caused by work challenges and workplace accidents. The collaboration greatly reduces the time, effort and cost associated with using the same cobot for various tasks as a cobots’ flexibility translates to a significantly faster return on investment.

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